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Do You Have a Household or Family Disaster Plan?

October 9, 2020

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American Red Cross graphic with the words we're in this together for a story about disaster preparedness

Image courtesy of American Red Cross

Santa Barbara homeowners, along with the rest of the world, are experiencing a heightened awareness of natural disasters these days. According to the American Red Cross in Santa Barbara, this awareness has brought with it new ways every household member can be better prepared in an emergency. The key is a family disaster plan.

All Santa Barbara homeowners need to do is follow the organization’s three key steps: “Get a Kit, Make a Plan, Be Informed.” Following the simple steps outlined below will help you keep yourself, your family, and your community safe, in a variety of emergency situations. It will also aid the thousands of Red Cross staff and volunteers to administer emergency aid when you need it most.

Disaster Preparedness Kit

Your journey to disaster preparedness begins with a family disaster plan, and a kit, or go bag, to hold all the items you will need in the event of a disaster. Remember, your carryall must be large and sturdy enough to hold the essentials below and small enough to grab on the run. One great option is to use a backpack. Another is a duffel bag on wheels, which is especially important for those residents unable to carry heavy items.

An official Red Cross Disaster Preparedness Kit with all the items needed surrounding it

Photo credit: American Red Cross

According to the American Red Cross, here are the important items your emergency preparedness kit should contain:

  • Water - At least one gallon per person, per day (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home)
  • Food - non-perishable, easy-to-prepare items (3-day supply for evacuation, 2-week supply for home).
  • Pet needs ‑ Remember to pack your pet's food, too (include their collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl, medications).
  • Flashlight
  • N95 Masks
  • Battery-powered or hand-crank radio (NOAA Weather Radio, if possible)
  • Extra batteries
  • First aid kit
  • Toiletries
  • Manual can opener
  • Medications (7-day supply) and medical items
  • A multi-purpose tool like a utility knife
  • Sanitation and personal hygiene items like hand sanitizer
  • Copies of personal documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • Family and emergency contact information
  • Extra cash
  • Emergency blanket
  • A change of clothing, including a warm, waterproof layer
  • An extra pair of eyeglasses or contact lenses (and solution).
  • Scissors
  • Duct tape
  • Work gloves
  • Towels
  • Matches
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Map(s) of the area

READ: Luxury Bunkers: Time to Invest in a Private Shelter?

Additional supplies to consider for your family disaster plan go bag include:

  • Whistle
  • Rain gear
  • Towels
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Entertainment items
  • Specialized medical equipment like syringes, CPAP machines, and oxygen tanks

Keep your go bag in an accessible location, such as a front hall closet or garage, where it's easy to grab on your way out the door.

Writing note showing Emergency Plan. Business concept for procedures for handling sudden or unexpected situations Empty orange paper with copy space on the yellow table

Create a Household or Family Disaster Plan

Every Santa Barbara family and individual needs to plan for an emergency. Effective disaster preparedness helps alleviate some of the chaos that surrounds any unexpected crisis. Experts say it is critical to have a written household or family disaster plan in place, which should be revisited regularly to ensure everyone in your household knows what to do and feels comfortable doing their part. The American Red Cross has excellent advice to help you with that, too:

  • Start by discussing with your family or household members how to prepare and respond to the types of emergencies that are most likely to happen in this part of the world, namely earthquakes, fire, flood, hazardous spills, active shooters, or extreme weather.
  • Next, assign certain responsibilities to each member of your household, determining who will be in charge of what aspect of the plan. You will need to work together as a team in the event of an emergency so make sure you are in sync with one another.
  • Finally, practice, practice, practice. By rehearsing the many elements of your plan, you will ensure everyone knows what to do and your family stays safe.

READ: Montecito Community Leadership Forms The Partnership for Resilient Communities

The American Red Cross has put together this free, handy template which makes it easy to create your official Family Disaster Plan. Just by filling out the form, Santa Barbara homeowners will have peace of mind knowing they have a list of everything they could need in the case of disaster at their fingertips.

Be Informed

Finally, make sure to sign-up to receive emergency notifications with California Health Alert Networks, the official public health alerting, and notification program for the Golden State. By doing so, Santa Barbara homeowners will allow federal, state, and local public health partners, environmental health, emergency medical services, healthcare, and emergency response to share important information with each other and with you. Santa Barbara County Public Health Department uses CAHAN to alert healthcare facilities throughout the county during emergencies.

Santa Barbara locals should also sign up with the Santa Barbara County Emergency Notification System. That is the best way to immediately receive emergency notifications on your phone through calls or text messages, on your computer via email, and more. After you sign up, the Santa Barbara County Emergency Notification System will alert you to flooding or road closures in your area, too. Through them, Santa Barbarians will be better prepared by receiving alerts from multiple facilities.

While being prepared with a household or family disaster plan might not prevent a disaster, it will give you the tools and the knowledge to be able to tackle the challenge head-on. Are you prepared to sell your home in Santa Barbara, Montecito, or Hope Ranch, or any of the upscale Santa Barbara neighborhoods, and begin the search for a new home sweet home? I have a plan for that! Begin your home hunt by checking out the listings on my comprehensive website. See something you like? Let me arrange a private tour. I can also sell your existing abode while we find you a new one. If this sounds like you, please give me a call at +1 (805) 886-9378 or email me at

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Client Reviews

“It was an emotional experience selling our mother’s home in Montecito that we all loved so much but Cristal made the process easier on our whole family by guiding us through the transaction every step of the way. She knows the market so well and everything she recommended was on point including the asking price, painting, and staging the home, which looked beautiful and helped the buyer envision her new home. We sold it the first day it hit the market with an offer above asking! Cristal did an incredible job communicating with us and the buyer to ensure that the transaction would run smoothly. We highly recommend using Cristal, she was a pleasure to work with! ”

- J & A

“Cristal is a pleasure to work with! Her knowledge of the local real estate market coupled with her amazing listening skills resulted in her showing us an array of homes that were all excellent choices. Her low-pressure patient attitude made us feel extremely comfortable with the whole process. I cannot recommend her highly enough.”

- M.F.

“Cristal Clarke is #1 in her field - and you don't become #1 by luck. Cristal works harder, and longer, and with more charm and patience than any real estate agent I have ever worked with in the past; her calendar has no weekend, her days have no clocks, her only concern is selling your property as soon as possible and for the best price on the market. Am I a fan? You bet!”

- P.B.

“We have used Cristal now several times and cannot express how grateful we are for her expertise, dedication, and unwavering support throughout the entire home-buying process. Cristal is knowledgeable, patient and attentive. Her attention to detail is remarkable, and she consistently went above and beyond to provide us with all the information and resources we needed to make informed decisions. Cristal is a skillful negotiator and advocate. She can navigate complex negotiations with professionalism and grace and felt like a true partner to us in the home-buying process. Cristal has a genuine passion for real estate and a deep commitment to her clients' satisfaction. I cannot speak highly enough of Cristal and her exceptional service. She is a true expert in her field and her dedication to excellence, combined with unwavering support is the reason we choose to work with her for all our real estate buying needs.”

- T.C.

“Cristal is a top-notch realtor who sold my home before it ever went on the market. I had two competing offers that enabled me to get top dollar for my home. Not only is Cristal superb but her team is extraordinary. I cannot say enough about Cristal and her team. They are simply phenomenal, the consummate professionals, who took care of every possible detail, making the sale and transition period, smooth from our end. They are also lovely, caring people, who knew all the right professionals, to get the job done. Thank you, everyone!”

- D.R.

“I could list lots of cool adjectives to describe Cristal. All good by the way. But, that is not why I or anyone should hire Cristal. My reason for hiring her, which proved to be correct, is very simple. She got the job done. And, she does it time and time again and with zero issues. And, that is why she is one of the top agents in the country. End of subject. ”

- M.A.

“Working with Cristal was a complete pleasure. Cristal was extremely patient with us as we evaluated nearly 2 dozen homes over a span of 2 years. Her knowledge of the market is unmatched. Cristal provided us with exceptional counsel as we evaluated opportunities and negotiated pricing. The closing process was handled thoroughly and efficiently. We could not be happier with our purchase and even more happy to now call Cristal our friend.”

- D.K.

“Cristal Clarke has conducted numerous real estate transactions for me beginning 13 years ago with the purchase of a Lemon Ranch. She has handled both large and small purchases and sales with equal dedication. As a negotiator, you can’t find anyone better. Her transactions are always conducted in the most appropriate and professional manner. Cristal has considerable knowledge of the Santa Barbara market.”

- S.N. Decker Ph.D.

“Living in Europe, we were to say the least, unaccustomed to the nuances of Real Estate acquisition in California and Cristal steered us through the process with absolute professionalism and personal attention to detail at every turn. Her in-depth knowledge of the market place combined with enthusiasm and drive was the only reason we secured the property of our dreams and will be forever grateful. If you are looking for personal discrete and private representation of the highest quality we suggest you look no further than Cristal Clarke.”

- Johan and Paula van den Berg

“Cristal is very straightforward, cheerful, helpful, professional and trustworthy….we felt very lucky to work with her.”

- John and Lacey Williams

“After considering our many choices, we are grateful it was Cristal Clarke of Sotheby’s International who represented the sale of our Montecito cottage. We are familiar with Cristal’s reputation of hard work and dedication to clients, but it was her attention to detail that made our experience so positive. She offered suggestions for staging the property, worked in harmony with potential buyers and was even able to secure back up offers. The sale of our cottage was completed much sooner than we expected, due in great part to Cristal’s professional skills and support. We highly recommend Cristal as a first choice for anyone needing representation with real estate.”

- Michael & Nancy Lee

“Our experience in working with Cristal Clarke resulted in the successful and discrete acquisition of a property which was not yet on the open market. Her knowledge of the Montecito/Santa Barbara area and vast expertise blended with her passion for real estate and architecture, provided us with the very highest level of professionalism and personalized services. Cristal exhibited a rare combination of excellent communications, attention to detail, creativity and patience.”

- Richard and Catherine Frinier

“Cristal really breaks the mold. She knows every nook and cranny of this real estate market, understands value, and follows up on everything, all the time. She was incredibly patient with our two year quest to find the perfect house. Every house hunting trip from across the country was well planned, and our time was never wasted. On top of her professionalism and expertise, she is delightful to spend time with. We are thrilled with the home we purchased, and grateful to Cristal for so wisely advising us through this process, right through to the close and beyond.”

- Laurie Siegel

“We met Cristal first in the course of renting a winter home (for three years), then buying a house using her as our agent. She was amazingly good at listening to our wants and showing us homes that fit our needs. Her mastery of the paperwork was perfect. Most importantly, there was never a situation where we doubted her straightforwardness or integrity. If we do another real estate transaction in Montecito (which I doubt, we’re happy with what we purchased), without question we’d use Cristal again.”

- Ken Saffir

“Susan and I just want to thank you for your efforts in the sale of our home. You are really quite amazing. Your competence, persistence, optimism and humor made the entire process effortless. Every problem that arose, you somehow fixed; any obstacle, you overcame. We have bought and sold many homes. It has never been such a painless and enjoyable process!”

- Michael & Susan Marquart

“A little something about “our” realtor, Cristal Clarke. My wife and I came to Santa Barbara about fifteen years ago looking for a seasonal home from which to enjoy the weather and amenities of the central coast. Being in the real estate business myself I was familiar with agents and brokers so entered the market with open eyes. We “flipped” a few houses in the early years, dealing with various agents and finally ended up in Montecito. That’s when good fortune put us together with Cristal. To say we were impressed is to put it mildly. Cristal really knows the market. She is familiar with the area, its history and trends. When we have questions about a particular property she either has the answers immediately or gets back to us by phone or email. There is no waiting or wondering with Cristal. She is an agent who is “on top of it.” Her recommendations as to price points, contractors, inspectors and title agents have proven to be exceptional, showing great insight and the highest professional standards. We consider ourselves exceedingly fortunate to say that Cristal Clarke is our realtor and would recommend her services to any serious buyer or seller.”

- Rob & Judi Kelch